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'Devastating cuts' wiping out rural bus services in England and Wales

Rural bus services are being wiped out in many areas of England and Wales due to cuts in subsidies, according to a study.

Campaign for Better Transport (CBT) research found councils were reducing spending on buses by more than £27 million over the coming years due to cuts to government funding of £78 million since 2010.

Areas worst affected according to CBT research...

  • Lincolnshire
  • Derbyshire
  • Somerset
  • Dorset
  • West Berkshire
  • Wiltshire
  • Oxfordshire
  • Hertfordshire
  • North Yorkshire
  • Lancashire

This new research shows that up and down the country utterly devastating cuts are now being inflicted on our vital bus services on a par with the swingeing and misguided cuts the government and Dr Beeching made to our rail network which decimated services back in the 1960s.

– Martin Abrams, CBT's public transport campaigner

The report says the cuts are on a par with the controversial Beeching Report into the rail network.

Mr Abrams said it was a "bitter irony" that many of the bus routes being cut had originally replaced the thousands of rail services that Dr Beeching recommended should be ceased, leaving more areas without any public transport.

Peter Box, the Local Government Association's transport spokesman, said councils were finding it "impossible" to continue to make up a funding shortfall for the concessionary fares scheme, which is in place for young, elderly and disabled people.

CBT map showing areas most affected by funding cuts to local bus services Credit: Campaign for Better Transport

Transport Minister Andrew Jones said: "Decisions on funding for local bus services are a matter for local authorities, but the Government protected around £250 million of funding for bus services in England, provided through the Bus Service Operators Grant, as part of last year's spending review. This has preserved millions of bus journeys every year."

Labour's shadow transport minister, Daniel Zeichner, said: "David Cameron promised to keep the free bus pass but he cut the buses instead.

"Labour would make sure that local communities have the power to make bus operators provide the services local people need."

The CBT has published an interactive online map indicating the areas where funding cuts have taken place.